Vaginal Leptothrix: An Innocent Bystander?

Pedro Vieira-Baptista, Joana Lima-Silva, Mario Preti, Carlos Sousa, Fernanda Caiano, Colleen K. Stockdale, Jacob Bornstein

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1 Scopus citations


Leptothrix are long bacteria of rare occurrence; although these bacteria have been implicated in causing vaginal symptoms identical to candidiasis, studies on prevalence and effect on overall vaginal health are lacking. In this study, we evaluated data of women referred to a private clinic for treating vulvovaginal symptoms (n = 1847) and reassessed data of our previous and ongoing studies (n = 1773). The overall rate of leptothrix was 2.8% (102/3620), and the mean age of affected women was 38.8 ± 10.65 years (range 18−76). The majority of the women with leptothrix had normal vaginal flora (63.7% [65/102]). Leptothrix was associated with a higher risk of candidiasis (relative risk (RR) 1.90, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.1600–3.1013; p = 0.010) and a lower risk of bacterial vaginosis (RR 0.55, 95% CI, 0.3221–0.9398; p = 0.029) and cytolytic vaginosis (RR 0.11, 95% CI, 0.0294–0.4643; p = 0.002). No cases of trichomoniasis were observed. Human immunodeficiency virus infection increased the risk of leptothrix (RR 3.0, 95% CI, 1.6335–5.7245; p = 0.000). Among the women evaluated for vulvovaginal symptoms, 2.4% (45/1847) had leptothrix, and in 26.7% (12/45), leptothrix was considered the causative entity. This study suggests that leptothrix occurrence is rare; it remains unresolved if it can be a cause of vulvar symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1645
Issue number8
StatePublished - 15 Aug 2022

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  • candidiasis
  • dysbiosis
  • lactobacillosis
  • leptothrix
  • vaginal flora
  • wet mount microscopy


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